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Changing Families

November 19, 2014

From the beginning, Skyland Trail has been a national leader in helping families feeling fractured by a mental illness heal - stronger and more resilient than ever. As our clients take steps toward independent living, we help their families learn how to support their loved one’s progress in healthy and effective ways. Through open communication and family-centered programs, families discover new ways to trust, communicate, respect, lean on, lift up and nurture one another.

Change in Action: Kyle B and Family

Kyle participated in the young adult program, graduating in 2011. He received his degree in mechanical engineering from Mercer University and is working as an engineer with a company in the Atlanta area. His parents, Roland and Ellen continue to be active in STEP, the weekly family support and education program.

How has your relationship with your family changed?
We are definitely much more honest and open. I do not hesitate to bring up my concerns. And my parents are much better in tune with how I am doing without having to worry as much. 

What’s the biggest change you’ve been able to make in your life?
Without my work at Skyland Trail I would not be the person I am today. Although it was challenging, the perseverance I gained has allowed me to pursue my goals without dwelling on my mental illness. 

What’s your advice for people and families in recovery?
Remember that, no matter what, bad days will still happen. Recognizing that fact and not beating yourself up for not doing well is an important step in the healing process, as well as day-to-day life.

What changes did your family go through as part of Kyle’s recovery?
As Kyle’s health improved, we had to transition from “waiting for the next shoe to drop” to the expectation that every day is going to be good until proven otherwise. We came to recognize that recovery for your loved one is as unique as they are; there is no straight line from illness to wellness. And, bottom line, we all embraced an understanding that mental illness does not define a person, it is what they have, not who they are.

What advice do you have for families beginning their recovery journeys?
The best way to care for your loved one is to care for yourself – physically, emotionally, and intellectually. Create a support network for yourself – family, friends, and support groups like Skyland Trail’s STEP program – and have the courage to draw on the resources of that network. 

This article appeared in the 2014 issue of our Journeys Magazine.